Prime minister Gordon Brown and business secretary Lord Mandelson visited London Gateway’s port construction site today to mark the start of work on one of the UK’s largest infrastructure projects.
DP World is behind the £1.5bn development, which was bailed out in November with a £300M loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Situated on the north bank of the River Thames near Thurrock in Essex, the conversion of the former Shell Haven oil refinery will create Europe’s largest combined deep-sea port and logistics park.
But Dubai-based port operator DP World announced in February last year that it was reviewing the scope of the project following a fall in global shipping demand. It had already asked the government to drop a requirement for it to pay for the £100M upgrade of junction 30 of the M25 at Thurrock, Essex, which was a key part of winning planning permission.
The EIB stepped in in November after it said the scheme would improve the intermodal efficiency of the UK’s national freight distribution system, reducing total land transport costs and increasing the modal share of rail and short-sea coastal shipping.
“The London Gateway is a significant foreign investment into the UK. It is a massive vote of confidence in the UK’s economic recovery and in this region. UK Trade & Investment and other Government departments have worked closely with DP World over a number of years to make this project possible,” said prime minister Gordon Brown.
“I am delighted with the decision to locate this world-class project here in the UK. It will help bring the largest deep sea vessels here and improve the efficiency of the UK’s freight distribution, creating thousands of jobs, future growth and economic prosperity.“
According to an independent survey commissioned by DP World, the development will generate 36,000 jobs in total, including 12,000 jobs in logistics and construction that will be created in the short term.
Business secretary Lord Mandelson and trade and investment minister Lord Davies were among those who worked with the company over recent months to secure this investment.
“London Gateway will mean the creation of 36,000 direct and indirect jobs, said Mandelson. “This project sends a message to companies worldwide that the UK is the number one place in Europe to invest. It is an excellent example of the long-term investment that the UK is looking for.
“Developing our infrastructure will underpin the steps the Government is already taking to stimulate the economy, and will lay the foundations for further advances in the future.”
The Prime Minister and Lord Mandelson were welcomed to the site by DP World Chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World CEO Mohammed Sharaf, and other senior company officials.
DP World Chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said: “When complete, London Gateway will provide the UK with modern, efficient infrastructure while at the same time reducing CO2 emissions and supply chain costs. By starting the major elements of construction, we ensure maximum flexibility to develop the project efficiently in line with market demand.”
On completion, the London Gateway will link road, rail and sea. The company estimates it will save over 60 million HGV miles per year - equal to about 2,000 truck movements per day on the nation’s roads. This will amount to a reduction of 148,000 tonnes per annum of CO2 emissions. With the London Gateway acting as a hub, containers can be sent via smaller ships to other ports around the UK.
London Gateway port site construction gets underway